The Woodbridge neighborhood in Detroit has nurtured a 100-year legacy of basketball culture. This tradition will continue with a new basketball-first, multi-purpose arena, located on the campus of Wayne State University (WSU). The University’s unique partnership with the Detroit Pistons is bringing home the G-League team, the Motor City Cruise, and providing training for WSU Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams.
The WSU Fieldhouse, the Piston’s arena and the Henry Ford Piston’s Performance Center create a triangle of critical basketball assets for cross-pollination of basketball talent.
The design honors the use of brick, steel and glass materials found throughout the Woodbridge neighborhood and WSU campus. The exterior brick colonnade harkens back to the traditional typology of basketball fieldhouses. It is balanced with a celebration of new forms, such as floor to ceiling glass. The front elevation also programmatically contains fan amenities and services, such as the entry lobby, retail, food and beverage, and premium club. By designing the concourse level at grade, visitors are treated to views into the bowl, similar to a top level arena experience.
A kit of parts approach was used to ensure efficient constructability, while creating impactful design moments where they most count. The pre-engineered building offered an economics of volume in the bowl. The 3,000-seat arena is hyper-flexible to pivot from game-play or practice to student life events or community-based activities. Retractable seating allows for many different configurations and the dividing system between the two courts encourages multiple activities at once.
The design team used its knowledge of pro and collegiate basketball arena and training design to create the next generation of multi-purpose arenas designed for flexible uses.